Kentucky Coffeetree

Gymnocladus Dioicus

This is our state tree. The Kentucky coffeetree isn't beautiful, but with the seed pods hanging from the bare limbs, it is picturesque. The leaves are three feet long, and they are one of the last to leaf out in the summer and the first to drop in the fall. The tree is bare most of the year. Its name "gymno" means naked and "cladus" means branches. "Dioicus" means two houses, and the coffeetree has both male and female characteristics on the same tree. The black, leathery five-inch pods are filled with bean-like seeds. Raw they are poisonous, but the pioneers roasted them to make a coffee substitute. Carry one in your pocket for a while, and it will become smooth and shiny like a marble.